Best of the Decade: Outfielders (Part One)
It seems hard to believe, but we are already in the year 2010. And with any new decade, it seems only fair to look back at the best of the previous 10 years.
So with that, I present my Top 10 picks from each position between the years 2000-2009: outfielders (for this list, I decided to do the top 30 given the large number of outfielders there are).
As with any ranking, there will always be snubs. I welcome any comments suggesting players that may have been left off this list.
No. 30—Randy Winn
Randy Winn has been a true professional for his entire career. He plays where he's needed, and fills the roles that are required of him with no grief. And except for 51-game played 2000 season, he's played at least 120 games in every season.
Winn has been productive at the plate too. He accumulated over 1,500 hits, drove in 596 runs, and stole 174 bases in the decade. He'll turn 36 years of age in June, so his fine career is starting to come to a close. But he is a free agent and is looking to sign on to a club for 2010 where his veteran leadership could be a big asset.
No. 29—Grady Sizemore
Grady Sizemore had his breakout season in 2005, when he blasted 22 home runs and batted .289, while hitting primarily from the lead-off position for the Indians.
As for the decade on the whole, Sizemore has already hit 129 home runs and stolen 130 bases. In '06, he led all of baseball in games played, runs scored, and doubles. He is also a three time All Star and a two-time Gold Glove winner.
At 27 years old, Sizemore has plenty of seasons left to continue his impressive career. But injuries limited him in 2009, and he will have to shake those woes if he wishes to become a member of the elite in the MLB.
No. 28—Ryan Braun
Braun's career is comprised of only three seasons, but they are three of the best seasons of anyone on this list. He was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2007 when he exploded for 34 home runs and a league-leading .634 slugging percentage.
Altogether, he's amassed 103 homers, a .308 batting average and over 300 RBI. He was an All Star each of the last two seasons, and was third in the NL MVP voting in '08 when he propelled the Brewers to the playoffs for the first time since 1982. This 26-year-old has a huge future ahead of him, and thanks to Braun (and Prince Fielder), the Brewers are legitimate contenders again.
No. 27—Vernon Wells
Vernon Wells has been the centerpiece of the Toronto Blue Jays' lineup for eight seasons. The swift center fielder has been relied upon by the Jays to provide thump and leadership for the rest of the team. And for the most part, he has obliged.
The two-time All Star went on to hit 191 home runs in the last decade while driving in over 700 runs. His best season came in '03 when he led all of baseball with 215 hits, and the AL in hits with 49 doubles.
However, injuries and overall ineffectiveness has diminished the value of Wells, and his current contract status has been forcing the Jays to attempt to trade him. Perhaps a change of scenery is all the 32-year-old could need to resurrect a once-promising career.
No. 26—J.D. Drew
If there is one word to describe J.D. Drew, it would be winner. During this past decade, Drew played for four teams (Cardinals, Braves, Dodgers, and Red Sox). And all four teams made the playoffs during his time there, including the Boston's World Series victory in '07.
As for his stats, Drew was rather consistent, when healthy. He ended with just under 200 home runs and 653 RBI. He only played in 72 games for the Dodgers in '05, but other than that season, he's managed to play in at least 100 games per season throughout the decade.
He just turned 34 years old, and is a mainstay in the outfield for the Red Sox. He is a perpetual offensive threat, and should remain so for at least a few more seasons.
No. 25—Johnny Damon
Johnny Damon has had a rather impressive career, while remaining under the radar for the most part. He has mixed contact, speed, defense and a little bit of power to his game and has done it well. He's been a member of the Royals, A's, Red Sox, and Yankees, while winning World Series rings with the two latter teams.
As far as overall numbers for the decade, Damon had nearly 1,800 hits and 158 home runs while stealing 264 bases. He lead the world in stolen bases in 2000 with 46, and was a two-time All Star in the decade.
Damon is a 36 year old free agent, and reportedly wants the Yankees to give him somewhere in the neighborhood of $13 million annually for him to return. At this point in his career, is Damon really worth that much?
No. 24—Raul Ibanez
When Raul Ibanez first came up with the Mariners in the late '90s, many experts believed he wouldn't be able to last in the big leagues. Boy, did he prove them wrong.
Ibanez left Seattle for the Kansas City Royals in 2001, and that was the beginning to his new career. After spending three seasons in KC, he returned to Seattle and became an offensive force in the American League. Finally, after the 2008 season, Ibanez left Seattle once more to join the Philadelphia Phillies. In 2009, he was named an All Star for the first time, and established a career high in home runs with 34. And, for the first time, he made it to the World Series—only to lose to the Bronx Bombers.
For the decade, Ibanez drove in 844 runs and smacked 204 home runs. He'll be 38 in June, but it seems Ibanez has gotten new life in the City of Brotherly Love and will look to give National League pitchers fits for at least two more seasons.
No. 23—Shawn Green
Shawn Green has almost become a forgotten name around baseball. But let's try to keep him in our memories. He finished the decade with 209 home runs and 694 runs batted in.
Green also managed to remain healthy for the better part of the decade, averaging 154 games played per season over the 10-year span. He doesn't have the glitz, glamor, or accolades that some of the other players on this list have. But there's no denying the value and skill this man gave to which ever team he played for during his career.
No. 22—Mike Cameron
Mike Cameron is a three-time Gold Glove winner. But not only get his field his position well, but the guy can flat out hit. How about 221 home runs, 750 RBI and almost 300 doubles in the decade?
He played for the Mariners, Mets, Padres, and Brewers in the last decade, and will begin the new decade donning a Boston Red Sox uni. He does strike out an awful lot. But he certainly gives more than he takes when it comes to his level of playing. Cammy should give the Sox a nice versatile slugger with an outstanding glove.
No. 21—Luis Gonzalez
Was there more of a classy man that Luis Gonzalez in the last decade? Probably not. This man was as professional as it got, while playing for the Diamondbacks, Marlins, and Dodgers. And even though his career ended in '08, he put some some amazing numbers, especially for a man his size.
The lefty swatted 221 home runs and drove in 778 runs. He was a four-time All Star, and led the D-Backs to their first World Series Championship in that incredible 2001 season. It seemed that as he got older, Gonzo got more and more durable, and managed to average 146 games played during the decade. There should be some room in Cooperstown for this class-act.